Foods to boost sperm quality for couples facing fertility problems

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If you’re a couple trying for a baby, then drop the red roses and go nuts.

A new  study has shown that almonds, along with other tree nuts, may help support male fertility and in turn the 3.5 million British couples facing infertility. Researchers found that eating 60 grams (about two portions) of nuts daily – including almonds – significantly improves the total sperm count and the vitality, motility and morphology (size and shape) of the sperm.

The Fertinuts study – with a combination of almonds (15g), hazelnuts (15g) and walnuts (30g) – showed similar sperm quality results as previous walnuts-only research demonstrated, but additionally increased sperm count by 16%. So, it seems that a mix of nuts may be key. Further, almonds are rich in zinc, which contributes to normal fertility and reproduction.

Previous research on infertility has suggested that poor eating habits, among other unhealthy behaviours and environmental factors, may be a contributor to declining sperm counts and sperm quality in industrialised countries.

This study was funded by the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC) who have created a short informative video explaining the results, highlighting the fact that fertility is an issue that affecting about 1 in 7 couples worldwide, with male factors responsible for 40-50% of these cases.

This study builds on a previous finding on walnuts alone (75g/day for 12 weeks) that found improvements in sperm vitality, motility and morphology, but not in total sperm count. The addition of almonds and hazelnuts to the study diet resulted in improvements in the same measures of quality, but increased sperm count as an added benefit. The researchers note that this current study agrees with the results from the walnuts-only study and “extends the seminal improvements obtained from eating walnuts to other types of nuts.”

Consultant Dietitian Juliette Kellow said: “Having a healthy diet is an important, but often-overlooked piece of the fertility puzzle.  This study shows that adding tree nuts like almonds offers a potentially easy way to boost male fertility and may help support couples trying to conceive.”

The nut-eating group saw improvements as follows:

  • 16% higher sperm count
  • 6% improvement in sperm motility (sperm cells’ ability to swim)
  • 4% higher sperm vitality (the amount of live, healthy sperm cells found in semen)
  • 1% improvement in sperm morphology (which refers to the sperm cells’ normal healthy size and shape)

The researchers suggest that the nutritional makeup of the nuts in this study could improve specific seminal parameters including antioxidant vitamin E, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and folate.  Almonds are high in zinc, which contributes to normal fertility and reproduction. The inclusion of nuts in a Western-style diet significantly improves the total sperm count and the vitality, motility, and morphology of the sperm.

 

 

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